5 Reasons Writing Down Your Thoughts is a Good Habit to Start
Articles may contain affiliate links.
Help Yourself Out, Write it Down
As a millennial in college, I always felt self-conscious about being one of the few students who never took notes on a laptop. Admittedly, my chicken-scratch notes weren’t nearly as pleasing to look at or easy to read like those of my many peers who typed their notes. However, there is a wealth of research showing that putting pen to paper is a good habit to start with a myriad of benefits. (I’m not bragging, but my pen and paper ways MAY have contributed to me graduating with high honors, who knows?)
Here are a few reasons why I’ve kept up this habit post-grad:
1. You’re more likely to remember things you write down
No seriously — there is a ton of research showing that writing aids in retention of important information. Don’t believe me? Scientific American spells it out pretty succinctly in this article. Students who hand write notes are more dialed-in, less distracted, and more likely to do well on tests.
2. It makes you look more professional
My day job involves working in a very technical field, and whenever we have meetings, it’s like college all over again — I’m one of the only people in the room who doesn’t bring their laptop. At first, I thought I was the one making a mistake here. If everyone else had their laptops, clearly I was the one doing something wrong, right?
Then I realized that most of my other colleagues in the room weren’t nearly as tuned-in to the topics covered during the meeting as I was. They were often answering e-mails, checking social media, and otherwise distracted throughout the meeting. I was one of the only ones asking meaningful questions and sending follow-up emails after the meetings were over. At my last performance review, my boss went out of her way to note how professional it is that I don’t bring my work with me to a meeting.
To me, this all seemed like a no-brainer, but it shows that this habit has career benefits as well.
3. A running to-do list means that you won’t forget important tasks
Memory benefits aside, keeping a written, running to-do list in a central notebook (for me, that’s a bullet journal) has helped me keep my life on track for the past three years. I keep everything from grocery lists to the due dates for bills all together in one central location. It’s easy to look at this list, see what I have to do on any given day (and any outstanding projects or tasks that I’ve been procrastinating on) and re-orient my life in order to stay productive and on-task.
Enter the Fox Den Resource Library
Subscribe to get access to 40+ pages of printables, brush lettering worksheets, and more!
4. Never underestimate the power of a brain dump
I’m naturally an anxious person, with a tendency to overthink anything and everything. I’m also a chronic caffeine addict with no self-control when it comes to the office coffee machine. I’ve spent many a late night, awake in caffeine-induced insomnia, thinking about every little thing I’d like to do with my life, stores I want to check out, books I want to read, and sometimes the meaning of life, the universe, and everything. It’s safe to say all that thinking doesn’t promote restful sleep.
When my brain goes a little haywire (which is sadly somewhat often), I make time to sit down and do a “brain dump.” I cannot emphasize how much this practice has improved my life. There is something seriously cathartic about ending your day knowing that all of your outstanding thoughts are on paper, ready to be dealt with at a time when you have more mental bandwidth available.
5. It’s just plain good for you
The American Psychological Association released an article detailing all of the many health real health benefits that writing can have. Whether you’re like me and your writing increases your productivity, or you simply write for pleasure, there are many proven psychological benefits to writing things down.
Journaling is proven to improve mental health (and many therapists recommend it as a way to get to know yourself better and work through stressors and trauma). According to many studies over the years, people who journal report lower levels of stress, and higher feelings of overall well-being. There’s even research that suggests journaling might contribute to a stronger immune system.
Just Start Writing
No matter what kind of writing you enjoy, it’s a great habit to have. In a world where we’re constantly bombarded by notifications on our phones and computers, taking a bit of a break to detox and write out whatever is on our mind is an important habit that can greatly improve your quality of life.
For me, my bullet journal has been an incredible companion to my mental health and creativity over the past three years. I look forward to my daily reflections, and I know that I have everything I need to keep my life in order all in one place. If you haven’t gotten yourself into a solid writing routine, maybe you should try it out!
Thank you so much for sharing this post! I agree with all of your points, and I myself have seen a lot of improvement in various aspects of my life from writing things down. I think more people could benefit from writing things down the good old fashioned way! 🙂
You’re so welcome! Nothing like good ole pen and paper.
I am always writing down on paper, to do list, thoughts. A friend was cross with me for wasting paper, this friend works in the local school, she says the children use white boards in stead of paper
I say write those thoughts down in whatever way works best for you, Helen 🙂
I just wanted to add that I used to coach people on budgeting and goal setting and one of the assignments I gave was to do your budget out on paper, not in an app or on a spreadsheet. Why? For the very fact that it is more time consuming, so it slows your brain down to actually pay attention. If you write out your (add your addition or habit) every day and the price you pay, you might start to think about how much you really want it. Go to digital later, but for the first few months doing this by hand really makes a difference.
Also, it was great to see your comment on laptops in the meetings. I agree! I have done both and remember far more when I have a pen and paper in front of me instead of a screen. More people should try it!
It’s pretty amazing how much more powerful it is when you write it down with a good ol’ pen and piece of paper! Thanks for reading Liz 🙂
Great post. Enjoyed reading it. I’ve recently started a journal and it has helped me. I feel like once I write down whatever needs to be written down my brain is free. I also am a #4.
Thanks so much Jenn! Getting those thoughts out and onto paper is such a wonderful practice.
I really enjoyed this article and a few of the points made I related to so wanted to comment.
The first time I have ever heard of a brain dump was from one of your posts and it has done wonders for me. Some days I feel like my brain is going to explode with ideas, worries etc. Writing it all down helps me calm down and it’s so much easier to then work through things.
I started bullet journaling at the beginning of this year. Yesterday morning I had an assessment with a mental health professional and my bullet journal came in incredibly handy. The psychiatric nurse was amazed by it as I was able to pin point how I felt on certain days etc.